It is not my intent to bust this pastor’s chops or rebuke him publically. In all likelihood he loves God, loves people, and is great at his job.
This, to me, is more a case of solid pastors with sound theological educations lacking the wisdom and skill to counsel those who are struggling mentally and/or emotionally.
Is anxiety a sin? Yes, absolutely, that is clear in Scripture. But there is a distiction between living in the sin of unbelief and lacking faith that God is sovereign and that everything that happens in our lives (good and bad) is in accordance with His good and perfect will and having our faith attacked in times of trouble. And that distinction is always lost in short social media posts.
1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.”
Notice that the verse does not say that believers will never feel any anxieties at all but, instead, to cast them onto God when we do experience them.
It’s important for pastors to know that all people will struggle with anxiety every now and then and that is OK and it does not fundamentally make us a sinners who have chosen to do doubt God.
Imagine a pastor telling a sexual assault survivor who experiences anxiety around men, “Don’t worry, God’s got this, you’re only anxious because you don’t have enough faith.”
Imagine a pastor telling someone who just lost their job and has no idea how they are going to provide for their families not to make their situation worse by adding the sin of unbelief.
I am not saying Justin Bullington would ever say such things but that is, fundamentally, what his tweet is saying and it’s wrong.
While Bullington’s words are indeed true, beating people who are suffering over the head with theological truths is both unwise and unloving.
As pastors, it is our job to teach, correct, and rebuke according to Scripture. But it is also our job to put our arms around people, disciple them, and walk with them through their struggles, not to just dismissively call them sinners.